Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Dan Tehan and Minister for Health Greg Hunt said today targeting suicide among former ADF who were under 30 was a priority recommendation of the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) Review into the Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention Services Available to current and former serving ADF members and their families, which was provided to the government on Tuesday and released publicly today.
Former ADF members under 30 had been identified in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) study Estimation of incidence of suicide in ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel as a group with a suicide rate above the national average.
Mr Tehan said he had also tasked the Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to respond to the review and said he would work with both departments to address issues raised in the review, specifically how both departments could work more closely together.
“The NMHC has produced a comprehensive document that identifies strengths and weaknesses in the suicide prevention services provided to current and former members of the ADF,” Mr Tehan said.
“The review found the ADF and DVA must work collaboratively to ensure their respective processes are seamless and continuous and we will focus on delivering that change.”
Minister Hunt said the Review would be considered in the roll out of 12 suicide prevention trial sites around the country.
“This includes the suicide prevention trial site in the Townsville region – which will have a strong focus on support for ex-ADF personnel, in particular for the under-30 age group,” Mr Hunt said.
“Today I can announce that retired 3-star general – Lieutenant General John Caligari – will lead the Veterans Suicide Prevention Project Steering committee.
“The Turnbull Government will provide $3 million over three years to the northern Queensland PHN to conduct the trial and commission services.
“As part of the trial, Project Synergy will work with the PHN to develop tailored digital mental health solutions, as part of the Turnbull Government’s $30 million investment in e-mental health.”
National Mental Health Commission CEO Dr Peggy Brown will meet personally with the PHN and steering committee next week to discuss the findings and recommendations of the review.
“The review highlights the importance of the human experience when dealing with Defence and DVA and we must continue to deliver better support to the families of current and former ADF personnel,” Mr Hunt said.
All serving ADF members can access mental health services through their on-base health facilities.
Defence and the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) also offer 24/7 specialist support to current and former ADF members and their families.
The ADF All-Hours Support Line is available on 1800 628 036 and VVCS is available on 1800 011 046.
Anyone who has ever served one day in the full-time ADF can access free treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse by calling the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 1800 555 254 or emailing NLHC@dva.gov.au